Journey’s End

After Athens we drove a mighty 3,000km back to England in 6 days.

It was lots of driving and little else, but we did do one last stop in Bruges, Belgium for the day. You can catch a glimpse of Bruges HERE.

Then it was the ferry back across to England. Veronique has done an amazing job. What a great van! She deserves a prize.

Vero our Hero

No more whining

We had planned for everything.

We planned to be stealthy (light-tight), we planned to be warm (insulation), we planned for the heat (roof window), yet somehow as we moved into late May, our sleep was disturbed. It was the whining. I admit to my share of complaints and bad days, but this time it wasn’t me. Nor was it Stephen, though by the time we had identified the problem, Stephen was complaining. And looking like he’d come out of a battle in the mornings. MOSQUITOES!

We suffered some nights, and slept with the window closed other nights, but this needed a solution!

We found a small hardware store selling screen on a roll. Here is what we made with it; our very own handcrafted screen

Screen

Adding up the miles

From the control centre

We are now in Croatia and Véronique our van has just completed 100,000 miles for her lifetime mileage and is still running strong!

That means we have new leaders to announce in our HOW FAR? contest ! Ben is currently ahead in two categories for his guess of 5000 miles and 7 countries. Beth is also in the lead for her guess of 7 countries.

The number of guesses still in the running is getting slimmer!

Mea Culpa

Just a Scratch!

On one of our first nights in Spain we pulled over in some tiny little farming town near a highway and I did this to our van, Veronique.  It was pitch black and I was reversing near a huge pile of branches next to a farm trailer when there was a bit of a crunch and a grind.  The farm trailer had a large high hook on it that made this nice scar across the back left of the van.  Since then I sprayed it down with some white primer we had left over from our other illicit activities, so it doesn’t look quite as bad.

I’m hoping that it just makes us look a bit more like we might not have anything valuable inside, since we will be moving into more interesting Non-EU territory very shortly.

Among Friends

Can you spot our van?

We pulled into Toledo around 8pm and we started to scout out places to park and right next to the bus station we found our haven! A huge free parking lot among friends at the base of the hill of the old city. Can you spot us?

Toledo was great town, with pedestrian areas and cobblestone streets. The little tourist train that left from the central square seemed endlessly popular. It was packed every time we saw it go by.

Freedom!!!

It appears as though we are finally on the move once more!

Yesterday we get back to our mechanic after leaving the van with him all day to find that he had not done anything with it (he said) since he didn’t have ‘big enough tools’ for a van.  Later we found out that he had been messing with the side door and not only broken the outside door handle, but also broke off the inside lock while trying to get the side door closed again.  Although I thought several times about going back to let him know exactly what we thought about his efforts, we didn’t go back.

Which turned out to be a GREAT thing as we did finally meet some nice French mechanics at an Iveco garage.  Not only did they take the van wheel apart and get 3 of them underneath it immediately to source the problem, they didn’t charge us a thing.  Oddly when we went to reproduce the noise for them, it was gone!!!  No efforts on my part have managed to induce a ‘claquement’ for them, much to my embarrassment and the amusement of the ‘chef’.  Somehow in their removing of pieces and replacing them, they appear to have accidentally fixed us up.  So strange, and soooo welcome.

We write this from Toulouse, and hour’s claquement-free drive South of Albi.

Green Spaces (with running water)

  Since we had so much time to kill in Albi, we wanted a truly premiere location for our stay.  This is the best spot we have found so far, next to a park with a public bathroom and just five minutes from the town center.

The way parking works in France is that there are largish public parking areas in the periphery of town and then paid parking near the center.  We are on a private street just outside the pay-to-park zone, minimizing the walk into the center.

Because Google’s maps are not good in this area, you can only zoom in one level.  If you do zoom in that one level you will see a Rue Rochegude, which is where we are pulled over between the park and the people who live next to the park.  I was hoping for some more zoom levels for this town, sorry.

However, if you zoom out one level or grab and move north a bit you will see the town center.  Its a very pretty town with a huge pedestrian area in the middle, cobblestones, and a lovely river next to it.  If you have to be stuck in a French town, this is a good one to be stuck in.

Rubber Made of Gold

Well we are in a bit of a pickle.  We had the bumping noise in the wheel diagnosed twice today.  The random Renault dealer was convinced it was a problem with the bearings and that we should probably keep driving on it until it failed.

However, our next stop was a large and well appointed Peugot dealer.  They say that the rubber in our engine mounts has corroded away and therefore our engine is longer attached properly to our chassis….not good news.

Even worse, the two primary bits of rubber which used to be sold separately, are now only sold with their metal underpinnings and so cost a substantial portion of the whole value of the van EACH!!!

If anyone reading this has a contact at a garage, breaker, peugot dealer etc., it would be really great if we could get in contact with someone who could provide these three rubber parts, new or used, for something more reasonable than the six hundred dollars they would cost us here.

In the original Peugot documents, they are called:

silenbloc triangle AVG and AVD

silenbloc moteur cote boite vitesse

I know its a shot in the dark, but we’ll probably be holed up here for a few days scouring local garages for a lucky strike.

The Cooking Shelf

Cooker shelf

Our mounted camping stove

This is a picture taken where we backed up under a bridge in a parking lot in Valence, France.

It shows the converting shelf for the Coleman dual fuel stove in its down position.  When the stove is folded up in its suitcase mode, the bottom of the shelf folds up and the lower loops you can see on the string hold the base of the shelf in an upright position to hold the stove in place while we are driving.

A Jumble

Inside the van

After our week of skiing, we basically just loaded up and drove down mountain to a nearby town called Albertville.  As you can see, things are a bit messy and we really needed some more shelf and floorspace to ourselves so we decided to spend a morning doing some modifications.

The first thing we wanted to do was add anti-fall lips to the large shelves at the sink and under the sink.  Then we wanted to add a large shelf above the sink and install the moving stove shelf on the back door.

The reason that you still see some vapor barrier around the rear doors is because we found the doors themselves were not air/light tight and the vapor barriers seemed to be the perfect size/shape and consistency to seal the doors when they were loose as shown.  Replacing them may happen, but the flaps work well at the moment.

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